Social media is the new word of mouth as marketing evolves beyond websites and online shopping carts. No longer simply a group platform for thumbs-up recommendations, social media is now a marketing tool that works in booming ways for businesses and customers. From Instagram to Snapchat, these platforms are changing the way we do business, and the potential for small business is huge. One caveat however, is that people have no interest in social media that is purely promotional. No one wants to read tweets promoting products or coupons with no real value for readers. These California businesses began small, and are now growing as they successfully use social media to connect in unique ways.
Sam's Chowder House
Half Moon Bay, CA
Sam's Chowder House is an award winning seafood restaurant committed to the environment and ecological systems from where Sam's food is sourced. Located in charming Half Moon Bay, a California coastal town with a thriving fishing community, the restaurant opened in 2006 offering great seafood, service and beautiful views. Sam's uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to inform customers:
Menu update - "Fresh local crab has arrived."
Education - "How DO you properly crack and eat a whole lobster?"
Special Offers - "It's Dollar Oyster night!"
Event Promotions - "Come to our Wine Lover's Dinner!"
Sam's ChowderMobile, the restaurant's food truck, came about from guests' feedback asking for a Sam's in their area, and became the first gourmet mobile seafood truck in the nation. Sam's now has three mobile trucks and uses social media to bring the truck's schedule to customers. "Twitter is a great medium for instant, short messaging, and gives us the nimbleness needed to communicate changes in route locations immediately," says co-owner Julie Shenkman.
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco's Ambiance is a popular boutique with five locations in top neighborhoods, and has won multiple awards for "Best Boutique" from numerous Bay Area and national publications. Woman-owned and customer service centric, owner Donna O'Leary has a grasp on what's best for business and knows the power of social media marketing. In addition to posting sales on social media, Ambiance does lifestyle posts relevant to living in San Francisco, such as hidden staircases, a windy day at the beach or museum outings, plus has giveaways and contests. Ambiance engages with several bloggers who invite people on social media to special blogger private shopping parties. Ambiance is expanding with how-to videos on fashion topics like "what to wear" and ways for customers to maximize existing wardrobes with their Ambiance purchases.
Patxi's Pizza is a California-based pizza-restaurant known for its deep dish creations with a California twist. Over the years, the restaurant has expanded to include locations across the state, as well as in Seattle and Colorado. Patxi's Pizza uses social media to connect with customers in ways that are community-centered and inviting. Twitter was used to help show good neighbor concern after the Oakland Ghost Ship fire, a warehouse disaster in December that took 36 lives. Tweeting "Help make a difference," the restaurant gave 10 percent of food purchases the following day to help the victims. Twitter was also used to promote "Dine Out For No Kid Hungry," which helped the Bay Area Make A Wish Foundation by donating 10 percent of purchases. Using Facebook and Twitter, customers can access links to buy gift cards at a $10 bonus for a $50 gift card, as well as cyber sales that give 10 percent off entire orders. On Patxi's Facebook page, customers can also order pizza. Instagram is used as well by the pizzeria to offer customers money-savings with coupons for onsite or online. You can even connect to Patxi's Spotify playlist for the tunes you enjoy.
This article was written by Melanie Graysmith for CBS Small Business Pulse.
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